Darren is a keen traveler and photography enthusiast from the town of Dunfermline in Fife, Scotland. For Darren, photography has always been a bit of a hobby and is closely intertwined with his passion for travel. As often as he can, Darren likes to get out and explore the world around him. Whether he is hiking the rural highlands of Scotland or roaming the sprawling cities of Asia, he will undoubtedly have his camera at his side. The goal of his photography has always been to visually document his adventures and to share them with others in attempt to inspire. Instagram is his preferred platform to share his work and to engage with fellow travelers from around the world, you can follow him at instagram.com/poetic_mouse.
He has been shooting with the Fujifilm X Series since late 2015.
Travel adventures with the X-T20
A long time ago, when I got my first digital camera with its staggering 3MP sensor, I found that I almost exclusively used it to visually document my travels whether they be at home in Scotland or further afield. I found it satisfying to sift through my images and share them with friends and family. As the years passed and I invested in more capable camera equipment, I realised that I’d taken a fair number of images but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them…then I joined Instagram. I started using Instagram as a means to share my travel images and interact with fellow travelers and photographers from around the world. It became my main creative outlet and source of inspiration with respect to editing styles and subject matter. Looking back, the platform definitely played a huge part in encouraging me to take photography a little more seriously.
In 2011, I decided to buy my first DSLR camera. I immediately noticed the jump in quality and the increased control over how I captured my images. I loved being able to record my adventures with my new setup but I was slightly aware that I’d sacrificed some level of portability for higher quality images, something that I gladly accepted at the time. Fast forward to mid-2014 and the mild issue of portability became more of a problem when my wife and I embarked on a 7 month long round-the-world trip. We were lucky enough to explore some fantastic places but the burden of lugging around a hefty DSLR and supporting lenses each day took its toll. Don’t get me wrong, the trip was incredible and I will forever cherish the images captured during those 7 months. But when I returned, I had a peek at the camera market to see if something more portable was available, which didn’t sacrifice image quality.
Hello Fujifilm X Series!
I was introduced to the X series when a friend let me borrow his X-E1 for the day. I took it out for an afternoon in the Scottish Highlands and fell in love with it. The lightweight body was perfect for hill walking and travel and image quality was far from sacrificed – it was excellent. I went on to buy an X-E2 for myself at the next available opportunity. The small form factor, retro styling and the superb X-trans sensor had me hooked. Soon after, I sold my DSLR and lenses and chose to shoot exclusively with the Fujifilm X camera system. In early 2017, when the FUJIFILM X-T20 was announced (featuring a touch enabled flip screen and the new 24MP X-trans sensor) I grabbed one as soon as it went on sale and immediately noticed a number of performance gains. The autofocus system was much faster and more accurate and the controls and dials felt more comfortable to hold, use and customise. Last but not least, the new sensor was simply superb and generated some beautiful vibrant and sharp images straight out of the camera.
Over the following few months, with an improved lightweight camera, I thought it best to put it through its paces and test out the travel-ability of the camera.
One of my first real outings with the X-T20 was a bit of an unusual one. I had the pleasure of joining a friend for a short microlight flight over East Lothian on the outskirts of Edinburgh in Scotland. Weight is a key factor in terms of microlight flying and there isn’t a whole lot of room in the rear seat, but the X-T20 was a perfect fit. With it securely attached around my neck and the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 lens mounted, we took to the skies.
I often find it difficult, if not impossible, to take nice images of the landscapes below through a traditional aeroplane window. More often than not, the widows are dirty and the cabin light reflections render the images unusable. Of course with a microlight, there’s nothing between you and the ground below making it ideal for photography.
I’ve photographed the East Lothian area in the past from the ground but it was fantastic being able to see it from a very unique birds-eye perspective.
Swiss Mountains & Cities
In April 2017, my wife and I packed our bags and travelled to Switzerland. Having never really explored the country before, I was super keen to wander the historic streets of the iconic cities and take in some of those famous mountain views. Our journey started in Zurich and Lucerne before we made our way to the mountains and lakes of Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen.
I guess that because I was brought up in Scotland with easy access to endless dramatic mountains and stunning coastlines, my instinct is to gravitate towards landscape photography. Because of this, I never really flex my urban/street photography when I explore the towns of Scotland. Of course Scotland has some beautiful cities, Edinburgh being one of them, but I find that I struggle to view Scottish urban areas objectively from a photography perspective. So when I travel abroad, I find new and unfamiliar cities fascinating and I tend to shoot in urban environments more readily.
The Swiss cities were a joy to explore. The narrow buildings and characteristic architectural styles are very photogenic. During our visit however, it seemed we’d brought some of Scotland’s famed overcast and rainy weather with us. The dull flat light and constant drizzle made it quite a challenge to get the shots I’d planned. However, one thing that living in Scotland has taught me is that overcast and moody weather can prove to be advantageous from a photography perspective. With that in mind, I put the X-T20 to the test and made use of its excellent low light performance to capture some atmospheric shots of the Swiss cities we visited.
Leaving the cities behind, we jumped on one of the panoramic trains and made our way to the mountain towns of Interlaken and Lauterbrunnen, near the heart of the country. The route was breath-taking with the train weaving between expansive lakes and passing at the foot of dramatic and imposing mountains. Being up in the mountains made me feel right at home as I quite enjoy hiking in the Scottish highlands. I also felt right at home diving back into the world of landscape photography to capture the snow-capped mountains, the beautiful lakes and the iconic rural cottages.
In May 2017, I hopped on a plane and made my way to the ancient city of Genoa in Italy. As part of a social media excursion, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend taking in the sights of the world renowned city with some fellow Instagrammers. I love Italy and any excuse to go back there is welcomed. The trip also gave me another opportunity to try my hand again at street photography with the X-T20. Most of the weekend was spent exploring the back streets admiring the colourful and photogenic buildings and alleyways. The tightly packed buildings made for some atmospheric lighting when the sun was out and was casting shadows down the lanes. The X-T20 handled the conditions with ease. It’s very satisfying being able to raise the ISO of the sensor to capture the dark streets without fear of adding noise to the image.
Needless to say, the X-T20 has impressed me over the last few months and it’s likely to continue to do so on future adventures. As someone who loves to travel and hates lugging around bulky and heavy equipment, the camera is the perfect fit.
….Now I just need to plan some new adventures to test it out further. If you’re interest in following me on my adventures then check out my Instagram page at www.instagram.com/poetic_mouse
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